31 Aug 2023

Migrant workers without jobs may soon have to vacate houses

From Checkpoint, 5:14 pm on 31 August 2023

Migrant workers allegedly caught up in an immigration fraud and living in over crowded conditions could soon be without any roof over their heads and zero income.

Earlier this week Immigration NZ inspected several houses across Auckland amid a review of the accredited employers scheme.

Minister Andrew Little ordered the review after getting an anonymous email claiming employers in the scheme weren't being properly vetted.

It's alleged dozens of mainly Bangladeshi men living at two houses in Lynfield and Glen Eden paid around $20,000 to get visas and work under the scheme.

But when they got here the jobs vanished. Their employer has also stopped supplying food, and men in one of the houses have to vacate in about two weeks.

But they're caught in financial limbo, unable to work for anyone else until they're issued with new visas.

Masud Alam, an advocate with immgration law firm Amerinz has been helping the men and speaks to Lisa Owen. 

MBIE says it's speaking with 115 migrants living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in 6 houses across Auckland - as well as witnesses as part of its investigation.

It says given it's a complex active investigation it will take time to gather all of the evidence and there are restrictions on what details can be shared publicly.

Immigration NZ has been involved with providing food and pastoral care for the affected workers.

It says it also has a new system of post-accreditation checks throughout the accreditation period.

That includes the ability to suspend or revoke an employer's accreditation if breaches of standards are found - but it says the vast majority of employers are doing the right thing.